This past summer I was given the opportunity of a lifetime when I was able to travel to West Africa for two weeks. I traveled the country of Burkina Faso meeting people, helping people, visiting orphanages, and making memories. Through those events, Africa became one of the most impactful trips of my life.
In Burkina Faso, they like to take life slow. Sending a single email can take up to six hours. Being an American, I wasn’t used to this style of life and constantly found myself tapping my foot and checking my phone impatiently…but after a few days, I finally started to open my mind and realized they may be onto something. Life isn’t supposed to be rushed. Over in Africa they aren’t worried about sending 50 emails, or checking their phone every minute, or hurrying through the workday. The people of Burkina take their day as it comes along. If something doesn’t work out, they go with the flow and accept it instead of letting it ruin their whole day. I learned to truly admire this way of life. When I think of the term “wellness” I think of living a low stress life. I personally can’t think of a better lifestyle to lead to your personal wellness than the lifestyle in Burkina Faso. Take life slow, live stress free, and be happy because the sun is shinning. Although those goals are not always easy, anytime I become overwhelmed I think back to Burkina.
Fitness is something else that has a different definition in Burkina. The people don’t obsess about going to the gym or lifting weights like we often do hear in the states. As a matter of fact, the whole time I was there I never saw a single gym. They get their exercise from carrying goods on their heads all day, or walking the streets selling fabrics. I would see women walk up and downs streets all day carrying bananas on their heads and babies on their backs. Without even intentionally realizing it, these women “workout” more in one day than a lot of Americans do in one week!
Overall, the people that I met abroad were very hardworking. Sometimes it’s easy to get lazy living in the states. Everything is pre-made and ready to go for you, but over in Africa they make everything from scratch. I bought a pair of shoes from a man after I watched him cut the leather, sew the leather to the sole, and fabricate the whole shoe. Same goes for the hand carven drum I purchased; wood was craved, hide was stretched, robes were tided together. It truly is amazing to see a scarf being made string by string. The point is, the people taught me to not be lazy. Do not live an easy pre-made way of life, but strive for high quality. High quality fitness, high quality wellness, and overall a high quality life.
Stay Healthy, Stay Strong.
All my life I’ve been pretty mediocre at sports. That’s probably not the best way to start a fitness blog, but it’s the truth. Everything I tried seemed to not be a fit for me, so I started running. Running is the ultimate body workout where I never have to worrying about getting hit in the head with a ball. Lately, I’ve seen a lot of friends and families get into not just running by themselves, but doing races. The color run, Tough Mudder, Glow Run, these are all races I’d like to do… but getting the courage to actually sign up took a lot longer then I expected.
Two weekends ago I finally completed my first 5k. No, it wasn’t a marathon, but you’ve got to start somewhere, right? I chose to do the Gladiator Assault Challenge, which is by far not your average 5k. With 30 military style obstacles interlaced into the run, there is something surprising around every corner.
The race took started on top of a ski hill. Yes, on top of a ski hill. At the top, there was a DJ and loud music playing to pump you up and get you going. When the horns went off, myself and 50 other people in my heat headed down the hill and into the woods. Right off the bat we were met with a pile of mud that we had to crawl through while a military official sprayed us down with a hose. It was at this point I realized that this run was going to be a dirty dirty 5k. We climbed up wooden structures, over rope walls, through mud up to our ears, and under barbed wire. We jumped through fire, ran off a 15-foot structure into a lake, and crawled through black tubes. This race was intense.
Although the race was nothing I’d ever experienced before, the whole time I was more excited to complete an obstacle than worry about getting dirty. With each challenge, I felt stronger and more confident than the last one. I kept thinking, if I can complete this I can complete anything. After running up and down the ski hill countless of times, the race finally came to a finish. There to greet our muddy and soaking wet bodies were loud music and volunteer workers handing out beer and fruit. They also had a gear tent where you could buy different t-shirts and athletic gear at the finish line. The weather that day was in the high 50s, so after running a race in mud and water, our main mission was to dry off and change clothes. Once dry, we ate a banana, finished our beer and headed out. Although the weather didn’t allow us to stick around for very long after the race, with our participant medal in hand we marched proudly to the car.
Over all I think that the experience of doing a mud run is something you cannot describe. It is dirty and challenging, but once in the moment all that is going through your mind is “I can do this.” I felt more accomplished after running those 3 miles than I did running any of my runs over the last year. If you are someone who wants to start challenging yourself to a race more intense than just running, I strongly recommend a mud run. There are plenty of different options to try out!
Another recommendation is running the race with a buddy. Not only does it keep the race fun, but also having someone there to help push you along the way makes the whole race seem easier. Plus you can laugh at each other as you’re trudging through mud.
If you have any more questions or comments about the Gladiator Assualt Challenge check out their website!
Stay Healthy. Stay Strong.
Recently I’ve started to look for different ways to take in protein. My everyday diet normally doesn’t include a lot of meat, and eating Greek yogurt all the time was starting to get old. Knowing that protein is key for muscle recovery after a workout, I was trying to find a quick way to take it in, but chugging protein shakes didn’t really appeal to me either. A friend of mine suggested that I try to make protein balls, so after some extensive research (Pinterest) I found the perfect recipe to give me that little protein boost throughout the day I was looking for. I really enjoyed this recipe and thought it would be the perfect addition to our blog site.
Before I dive into this delicious recipe, I think it’s important to know exactly what proteins are and what they do for us. Proteins aid in supporting your entire body from cells to organs. Bones, hormones, antibodies, keratin are all made up of proteins. To get a further in-depth break down of each specific role each protein plays, check out this website. Proteins play a bigger role in our nutrition and health than I originally had realized, so I was thrilled to find out about protein balls.
On average it is said that woman should take in about 46 grams of protein a day, and men roughly 56 grams. Now for some this isn’t a hard feat, but as I mentioned before I tend to struggle with that. Protein balls are simple, easy, and you can alter them to your own liking. I went with a cranberry almond banana protein ball. I altered the recipe only slightly to cater to my own taste buds.
Active Time: 15 minutes Serving Size: 1 ball
Total Time: 15 minutes Makes: 14 balls
Calories per serving: 98 Fat per serving: 5 grams
Fiber: 2 grams. Protein: 5 grams. Sodium: 39 mg. Saturated fat: 1 gram. Sugars: 6 grams. Carbs: 9 g.
*The nutritional facts may be varied differently than the original recipe (http://www.healthyseasonalrecipes.com/sunflower-seed-protein-balls/) because I used almonds instead of sunflower seeds. *
- 1 very ripe banana, mashed
- ½ cup seven seed butter (found at Sentry)
- ¼ cup honey or maple syrup
- 4 scoops vanilla soy protein powder
- 3 tablespoons coconut flour
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ cup sliced almonds
- ½ cup dried cranberries, preferably fruit juice sweetened
The execution itself is fairly simple. Mix together the banana, seven seed butter, and honey in a food processor (I did it by hand because I didn’t own one). It should form a paste like consistency.
Next, add the protein powder, coconut flour, cinnamon, almonds, and cranberries. Mix together. The consistency will be slightly drier than before, but don’t worry this is supposed to happen.
Then take the mixture and form into balls. Put in the refrigerator.
The end product was delicious and now I have a quick snack to eat before or after a workout! You can even snack on them throughout the day for a quick protein boost!
Stay healthy. Stay strong.